The Drifters recorded their first four songs on June 29, 1953, but the co-founder of Atlantic Records Ahmet Ertegun was unimpressed with the combination of singers and changed the lineup.
Lead vocalist Clyde McPhatter went back to the drawing board and sought out a new group. The newly assembled Drifters included gospel vocalists Bill Pinkney, Andrew Thrasher, Gerhart Thrasher, Willie Ferbee and Walter Adams.
Named Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters, this group released its first major hit, “Money Honey,” in September 1953 and went on to make songs like “Honey Love” and “White Christmas.”
In 1959, with Ben E. King as the new lead vocalist, the Drifters churned out R&B classics such as “There Goes My Baby” and “Stand by Me.” In 1960 “Save the Last Dance for Me,” topped both the pop and R&B charts.
By blending R&B of the '50s with soulful gospel elements, the Drifters’ sound and lyrics epitomized romance and daily life in New York City.
With a recording career on Atlantic Records which lasted from 1953 through 1966, Ertegun proclaimed them to be “the all-time greatest Atlantic group.”
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